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South Carolina Police Officer Indicted in Fatal Shooting Caught on Video

The white South Carolina police officer whose shooting of a fleeing, unarmed black man was captured in a chilling cellphone video earlier this year has been indicted on a murder charge by a grand jury.

By James Queally

The white South Carolina police officer whose shooting of a fleeing, unarmed black man was captured in a chilling cellphone video earlier this year has been indicted on a murder charge by a grand jury.

Michael Thomas Slager was arrested in the slaying of Walter Scott on April 7, the same day the shocking video was leaked to several national media outlets. The footage, shot by a passerby on his way to work, appears to show Slager shoot Scott multiple times as he runs away from the officer.

Monday's indictment was no surprise. Scott was shot eight times from behind.

Dashboard camera footage released days after Slager's arrest showed Scott run from the officer during a routine traffic stop, but the 50-year-old did not have a weapon or appear to attempt to harm Slager at any point during the chase.

Before his arrest, Slager had said Scott was attempting to take his stun gun, adding that he "felt threatened and reached for his department-issued firearm."

During the news conference announcing Slager's arrest, North Charleston Police Chief Ed Driggers had said the officer attempted to bring Scott down with a stun gun, but it was not effective.

Slager had been a North Charleston police officer for five years.

His attorney, Andrew Savage, said Monday that prosecutors still haven't provided his office with discovery documents, and declined to comment on the indictment.

Scott's death, one in a series of police-involved killings of unarmed minorities throughout the United States in the past year, was especially poignant in North Charleston, where police have been repeatedly accused of racial profiling as part of a larger effort to stymie violent crime in the city.

Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Times reviewed eight years of data related to motor vehicle stops in the city, and found blacks were stopped by police twice as often as whites in North Charleston. Census data show that 47.2 percent of North Charleston residents are black and that 41.6 percent of the city's residents are white.

(Los Angeles Times staff writers Tenny Tatusian, Christine Mai-Duc and David Zucchino contributed to this report.)

(c)2015 Los Angeles Times

Caroline Cournoyer is GOVERNING's senior web editor.
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